Cass tops Tigers; Excel wins 3rd straight; Whitfield’s buzzer-beater not enough

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Thanks to a strong second-half performance, the Cass boys basketball handled Adairsville Saturday night by a score of 78-46.

The Colonels scored 50 points in the second half to pull away for the win.

“We didn’t come out the gates very hot. We had [assistant coach Drew McKaig] talk me into changing up the defenses, came out the second half and had a real good performance,” Cass head coach David Brock said. “We shot better for sure, but we’re going to be our best in transition. If we can get stops and get out and go, that’s good for us. We got more stops in the second half, which allowed us to have a better flow in the game and put more points on the board.”

Mike Sims led Cass with 17 points, while Ian Whittington chipped in 13 and Jake Collum had 12. All 12 of Cass’ players scored in the game.

With the win, Cass is now 8-10 overall and will travel to Rome Tuesday.

“That’s two in a row for us, still undefeated in the county with Rome coming up on Tuesday,” Brock said. “That’s going to be a big one, not just for the region, but to keep the momentum going. We played well this week. Other than that slip up against Cedartown, we’ve been playing pretty good basketball. Hopefully, we can keep this thing going and rolling on to the region tournament.”

Excel 77, Walker 68

The Excel boys basketball team is on a roll.

The Eagles won their second game in two days against a team ranked above them in the Class A Private power rankings and won their third consecutive game overall Saturday when they defeated Walker at home by a score of 77-68.

“They were big-time wins for us [Friday] night and Saturday to get two wins against solid programs that were ranked in the [top 16 in the] power rankings,” Excel head coach Matt Sanders said. “I’m not sure where that’s going to put us because I haven’t seen what other teams have done over the weekend. But I do expect us to move up and throw a monkey wrench in that. We still have to keep playing. We still have a lot of ball to be played.”

Excel controlled the lead throughout the game, leading 16-7 after the first quarter, 35-21 at halftime and 59-44 at the end of the third quarter before winning by nine.

“Once again, we set the tone defensively. We held them to 21 points in the first half,” Sanders said. “Robert Baker, [Walker’s] big kid, and Sam Bush, we knew those guys were going to come out guns blazing in the second half, and boy, did they ever. [Walker] scored 23 points in the third quarter, 24 points in the fourth quarter. We kind of offset it by hitting clutch shots. Chris Hale hit a clutch 3 late. Darius Thrower hit a clutch 3 late. Latrel Jones hit two clutch free throws where they got it to six or seven and we extended it up to a double-digit lead. So we had some clutch buckets in crucial moments and that’s what kind of got us through.”

Hale led all scores with 29 points, while Thrower added 24 and Caleb West chipped in 14.

“Credit coach Brice Brickhouse, their head coach. He threw some defensive adjustments at us. But we had some senior leadership today,” Sanders said of Hale, Thrower and West. “When they threw their defensive adjustments at us, Caleb West, Chris Hale and Darius Thrower, they jumped right into it and they made their adjustments naturally. It really wasn’t anything I called. They used their instincts and their basketball IQ and they made the adjustments.

“It proved they can become leaders, and that’s what we really need in the second half, for those three guys to become big-time leaders as we try to make a push for the region tournament and the state tournament.”

Rome 79, Cartersville 76

After trailing by nine points entering the second half at Rome Saturday, the Cartersville boys basketball team came back and brought the game into overtime thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Kobie Whitfield.

However, despite Whitfield’s heroics, the Canes lost in overtime by a score of 79-76.

“I was so pleased with our efforts,” Cartersville head coach Mike Tobin said of the game. “We battled back. It was a good battle and it was a really intense, emotional game. It was fun. It was a good atmosphere.”

Cartersville played Rome tough throughout the first half, but the Wolves were able to build up a nine-point advantage just before halftime.

“We made some costly turnovers just before halftime,” Tobin said. “We really should have been down by four or five, but they hit a 3 right at the end.”

Cartersville clawed back and was able to tie the score with Whitfield’s corner 3 as the horn sounded to end the fourth quarter.

“He came up big,” Tobin said of Whitfield, who finished with 20 points in the game. “[Trase] Fezzia came up big. He shot the ball real well.”

Still, Rome was able to pull off the win in overtime.

“It was pretty much back and forth in the overtime and they ended up beating us by three, so it was a good battle,” Tobin said. “I think it’s going to help us out tremendously. They put a lot of pressure on the ball. We’re pleased to score 76, but we have to do a better job than giving up 79 points.

“We didn’t do a good job of taking care of the ball. Defensively, we had a few lapses where we had a hand down on a 3-point shooter and they hit a 3 on us. What we really try to tell the kids is how important every possession is. A lot of people remember Kobie hitting that 3. Well, a couple of things we could have done earlier, we might have won the game in regulation.”

Cartersville is now 11-5 overall and will play another non-region game Monday at Woodland.